Patterns of facial trauma before and after legalization of marijuana in Denver, Colorado: A joint study between two Denver hospitals

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The effect of marijuana on human health has been studied extensively. Marijuana intoxication has been shown to affect performance, attention span, and reaction time. The public health relationship between trauma and cannabis use has also been studied, with mixed conclusions. In this report, the effect of marijuana legalization on many aspects of facial trauma at two hospitals in Denver, Colorado is examined.


A retrospective review of the electronic medical records was undertaken. Mann-Whitney U tests were used to compare age of patients before and after legalization, and chi squared analyses were used to compare mechanism of injury, and fracture types before and after recreational marijuana legalization in Denver, Colorado. Geographical location of patients was also considered.


No significant increase was found in race before and after marijuana legalization (p = 0.19). A significant increase in age was found before (M = 39.54, SD = 16.37), and after (M = 41.38, SD = 16.66) legalization (p < 0.01). Maxillary and skull base fracture proportions significantly increased following legalization (p < 0.001 and p < 0.001 respectively). No significant differences were seen in the proportion of patients who lived in urban and rural counties before and after legalization (p > 0.05).


Public health efforts should be directed towards educating residents and visitors of Colorado on the effects and toxicology of marijuana. More epidemiologic studies are needed for further assessment of the long-term effects of the legalization of marijuana on the population.

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